As from the beginning of September, 2009 a sensory garden has been the most prominent outdoor feature at the family-type home known locally as the Pink House.
We’ve always wanted the little yard to be something more than an enclosed and grassed area with a slide and a swing. For the purpose we needed motivation, creativity and inspiration, complete devotion to the idea, friends with big hearts and skilful, tireless hands. It was particularly wonderful that the oldest resident – a boisterous teenager – was very interested with the design and the building of the garden. The whole time he wanted to have his own tasks to do. He learned how to use tools to fix bolts or attach brackets and chose much of the colour scheme, painting and arranging – a regular working guy among other regular working guys.
Now the children have the chance to play with a variety of stones and shells (different shapes and textures), to react to the sound of bamboo and metal wind chimes, to enjoy the brightly coloured objects hanging above their heads. The residents of the Pink House are profoundly disabled – it’s necessary to find a safe way to provide a wide range of sensory stimulation. The sensory gardens can encourage children to react passively to stimuli that arise naturally or they can encourage ‘interaction’ with certain features that promotes behavioural phenomena like choice and expectation. Different areas can be designed to soothe, stimulate and / or educate. They are set out to improve competencies (eg. walking on uneven surfaces) or teach a wide range of skills (eg. locating and identifying objects by size, shape or texture).
Creating a sensory garden is the kind of undertaking that involves taking an initial deliberate step and then allowing the whole thing to evolve. We already have new ideas. As for the cost – it simply depends on how much you decide you want to spend on enterprise. In our case, there was some expenditure on timber and paint but many of the components were made from natural materials and the sort of stuff people have lying around (even things that usually end up in the garbage such as empty plastic bottles). Closets were ransacked and backyards scoured for bits and bobs. Local businesses gave sand, gravel and old tyres.
Thanks to everyone, who accepted the challenge and created something quite magical!